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Monday, 26 March 2012

Reviews: Primal Fear, Adrenaline Mob, Phase Reverse

Primal Fear: Unbreakable (Nuclear Blast)

Returning from out of a their experimental wilderness and back doing what they do best, which is balls-out Teutonic heavy metal. Let’s not beat around the bush Primal Fear sound like late period Priest ala the Painkiller era. Ralph Scheepers vocals are on top form as he wails and screams over the powerful backing laid down by drummer Randy Black and bassist/producer/writer and all around metal icon Mat Sinner. The shredding is provided by long-time guitarist Magnus Karlsson and new boy (and Mat Sinners long-time collaborator in Sinner and Voodoo Circle) virtuoso Alex Beyrodt who adds his free flowing style to the album. Starting out with the instrumental Unbreakable Part 1 before tearing listeners a new one with Strike and the pace doesn't relent with Give 'Em Hell, chunky rocker Bad Guys Wear Black and And There Was Silence. It's with Where Angels Die that everything slows as this is an overwrought ballad which really shows of Scheepers fantastic vocal range. This is a stunning return to the old school sound of one of Germany's premier trad/power metal bands, long may they reign! 9/10

Adrenaline Mob: Omerta (Century Media)

When Mike Portnoy left Dream Theater many wondered what route he would follow. After a false start with Avenged Sevenfold and his continuing work with Transatlantic, Mike has finally pulled his finger out and has returned with two distinctive albums. The Flying Colours album I will review next time however in this review I'm going to concentrate on the harder edged Adrenaline Mob album. The band are Portnoy on drums, Symphony X's Russell Allen on vocals and hitherto unknown (by me anyway) virtuoso guitarist Mike Orlando from Sonic Stomp. The band play crushingly heavy, melodic and technically proficient (naturally) modern metal. The sound is distinctly heavier than anything Dream Theater have done (although it's on a par with recent Symphony X output). After the E.P underwhelmed me even with the talent involved (this was mainly due to bad production) my expectations of the album were low, however from the muscular Nu-Metal riff of opening track Undaunted I was blown away. The production was faultless, Portnoy's drumming is stunning, Allen's voice has a vicious snarl that adds to the aggressive nature of the music and Orlando's guitar playing (he also handles bass) is jaw dropping, he has technicality but applies it sparingly knowing just when to take the track up a gear. The influences come from everywhere Undauted is like a super charged Disturbed, Indifferent and Psychosane have the progressive influences of Allen's and Portnoy's former day jobs. All On The Line is a ballad of Alter Bridge proportions and the rest of the album ebbs and flows excellently letting in BLS and others barely letting the pace and enjoyment slip (they even make Duran Duran sound like Dio fronted Sabbath on their cover of Come Undone featuring Lzzy Hale of Halestorm). This is a top class album from top class musicians (now featuring Disturbed's John Moyer on bass to give a crushing bottom end live). Definitely one for any fan of modern metal or any of the bands these musicians are in and any of the bands I've mentioned, or for anyone into metal in general. Cracking. Buy It! 9/10

Phase Reverse: S/T (Aural Music)

Phase Reverse are a stoner/blues metal power trio from Greece. They play a mix of AIC, Soundgarden and BLS with bassist/vocalist Tas' shout being somewhere between Zakk Wylde and Chris Cornell. They are the 'flesh and bones' of a rock and roll band and mix heavy stoner metal and powerful riff driven rock. The bass is the main rhythm of the band with the drums of Alex providing a pounding back beat, both of them underpin the chunky and reverb drenched guitar playing of John who also provides the crystal clear production. Songs like Cross To Bear, Crash And Burn and Death Ride show the power and musicality of the band, the pace barely lets up with Wide Awake, High Hopes and the progressive Long Gone giving a wider spectrum to their sound. A great album from a band that should get bigger because of this album. 8/10  

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